Victor Wang When I went to watch Argentina face Nigeria at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, I didn’t think about my safety as much as I probably should have.
Imagine a lost, little Asian-looking boy speaking English and Spanish, decked out in Argentinian soccer gear, carrying bags of merchandise roaming the streets of Brazil by himself. Yeah, I’d rob him too.
Unfortunately, the first time I felt like the only redhead in the classroom was when I was returning from the game and I took an alternate route home. As I walked down the street, I was yelled at by locals who asked me to come and talk to them.
The walk home was torturous, as I treated everyone as someone that I didn’t want to make eye contact with. One group had taken to following me, but before they could act, I rounded the corner to the hustle and bustle of the main street.
My most frightening moment as a sports fan had to be when the Syracuse University Orange played the University of Kansas Jayhawks in the 2003 NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament.
I was only 9 years old, but I remember being able to stay up late in hopes that my hometown team would take the title. Syracuse had been in this position before, losing in the championship to Indiana University in 1987 by one point on a buzzer-beater.
Syracuse was up 53-42 at halftime, and I thought that there was no way they could lose. But Kansas battled back and cut the game to a three-point lead with just seconds to go.
Former Jayhawk and current Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich passed the ball to a wide-open Michael Lee in the corner, but Syracuse forward Hakim Warrick’s freakishly long arms swatted the ball out of bounds as Lee went to take the shot.
The picture of Hakim blocking that shot is one of the most iconic in Syracuse basketball history. That game had me so nervous in the final eight seconds, but I am glad the Orange were able to bring home the first basketball title in the school’s history.
Watching the University of Alabama play football has always been equal parts enjoyment and unbearable stress for me. Against Auburn University on Nov. 30, 2013, stress finally won out in a truly nightmarish game.
It was a hard fought game from both sides—neither team ever took a real edge over the other. Auburn tied the game with just 32 seconds left, but senior quarterback A.J. McCarron led the Crimson Tide down the field to just inside field goal range.
Or so I thought.
With just one second on the clock, head coach Nick Saban called out senior kicker Cade Foster. Foster’s kick was on target, but it fell a few yards short of the field goal. Waiting there for the ball was Auburn’s senior cornerback Chris Davis.
At first, I thought he would be tackled around the 20-yard line or so––that happens on most of these plays. But Davis kept going. And going. And he scored. He knocked Alabama out of National Championship contention in a single, 109-yard dash.
My sports nightmare only lasted a few seconds, but I will remember how terrifying it was forever.
The New York Mets were inarguably dominant in 2006. They cruised to a National League best record of 97-65 and seemed poised for a World Series berth. But first, the Mets had to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.
The Mets sent notoriously inconsistent pitcher Oliver Perez to the mound in Game 7. Magically, Perez held the Cards to just one run over six innings of work, but the Mets were only able to answer with one of their own.
The most frightening moment of my career as a sports fan came in the top of the sixth inning. With the game tied 1-1, Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen came to the plate with a runner on first. He launched a no-doubter to left field. Mets outfielder Endy Chavez gave chase, but it was not looking good.
With a perfectly timed leap, Chavez was miraculously able to reel it in. Without wasting a second, he fired back to the cut-off man, who got the ball to first in time to double off the runner and end the inning.
Though the Mets ended up losing the game in heartbreaking fashion, the agony of defeat in no way matched the emotional roller coaster that this single play sent me on.